As a training manager who recruits many young people and belonging to Generation Y myself, I am particularly interested in how we recruit the next generation and how we adapt maritime training to achieve the greatest possible competence.

The majority of people working at the industry either belong to Generation X (1965-1980) or Generation Y (1981-2000). People of Generation X are currently probably senior officers. When they went to school, if they wanted any information, they had to search for it in encyclopedias. For people of Generation Y, maritime training probably wasn’t too different for them although perhaps instead of using  paper encyclopedias,  they used CD ROMS and everything was just a bit faster. They also saw the birth of dial-up internet which played an important part of their studies. We often hear that Generation Y represents the young guys of the industry, but actually this is not always true because many of them are currently in command, either on ship bridges or engine rooms. 

Next year, the recruitment of Generation Z(2001-2011) will begin. People of this generation are often called as ‘Millennials’ or ‘Dot Com Kids’ because they are literally always connected. We are always seeing them with a smart phone or having tablets in their hands. They have access to a wide range of information and in a much higher speed than anyone else before. I feel that these are exciting times for the industry but still we have to adapt our training methods to suit the qualifications of these young people.

For most of us who have acquired maritime training, the methods we experienced were quite similar. We have gone to college for let’s say for three years, we had lecturers who were industry experts giving us all required information and then we went to work to put our knowledge into practice. Generation Z will not necessarily adapt to this style of training. They are going to want to see and experience things from an early level. The good news is that there is lot of technology in the industry to adapt  training and make this generation more confident. For example; gamification, which has developed significantly in shipping over the past 18 months or so... We can develop applications on iPads related to collision avoidance situations and cadets can use them anytime they want.  Nowadays, we don’t need to just teach theories; we can make training more realistic.

Another example of upcoming training for the new generation is Virtual Reality. Unfortunately, we still loose too many seafarers each year in enclosed space entries. According to the traditional training methods, seafarers learn about enclosed rooms into a classroom, participate in drills which are only semi-realistic situations and then are considered as being ready to enter a real enclosed space. What we can do now is purchase some VR headsets , develop software and get trainees to experience enclosed spaces from the early stage of their career and in a safe classroom environment. If we acquire these kinds of technology, we could acquire significant higher competence in the future.   

Generation Z can bring us an additional advantage to the huge problem that we face in the industry: the overload of information. For example, think of the navigator; he has too much information through the many layers of ECDIS that simply cannot handle it. This generation can be trained at early stage sorting a lot of information quickly. Therefore, they will be much more able to process navigational information.

We have y seen drones being used by classification societies for inspections. From a commercial perspective, I think we can use drones either in ports or high risk areas where they can provide a broader view to look at any suspicious part. However, drones will add more information on the bridge, but Generation Z should be well equipped to deal with this.

The following picture could be a realistic view of how bridges may look like in the future


Love or hate it, Generation Z is always connected and social media will play important role on how we recruit seafarers in the future. We can now go to YouTube, Instagram and Facebook and see exactly what a seafarer does on a daily basis. Just to realize how powerful social media are; back in June, we organized an event in Philippines and three weeks prior to it, we advertised it on Facebook. Over the course of three weeks, we had over half a million people been informed about it! For sure, there are problems and risks associated with social media but if we embrace them properly, they could be to our advantage.

In conclusion, Generation Z is coming forward fast and will start to enter the industry for the beginning of next year. If we are able to embrace their skills and adopt new emerging technologies in maritime training it may resultin very competent seafarers which will lead in a much safer industry.

Above text is an edited article of Adam Lewis presentation during the 2016 SAFETY4SEA Conference & Awards

You may view his video presentation by clicking here


Adam Lewis, Manager, Operations & Training, International Maritime Employers’ Council Ltd

adam-lewis-_Adam joined the shipping industry as a Deck Cadet with Cunard Line while reading for a BSc (Hons) in Merchant Ship Operations at Southampton Solent University.

Upon graduating, Adam commenced his career ashore, initially as an operator/charterer in the short sea shipping trade and then within the safety and security department of a superyacht company

Adam joined IMEC in 2010 and is now the Manager of Training and Operations.  He is predominately responsible for the management of the IMEC Enhanced Cadetship programme which current trains approximately 600 cadets in the Philippines, all of which are employed by IMEC members.  He is also responsible for overseeing the IMEC English Language programmes in Russia and Georgia, as well as the IMEC Rating to Officer Scheme.